Antoine Bibeau is hoping his second-ever NHL start will go better than the first.
Not that he played badly against the Avalanche on Dec. 11 — Bibeau stopped 26 of 28 shots, good for a .929 save percentage. But the Leafs lost that night, and Bibeau’s counterpart, Colorado netminder Seymon Varlamov, put forth a brilliant 51-save effort in the win.
Tonight, Bibeau will have a shot at his first career win in Tampa Bay, facing a Bolts team that rallied for a comeback OT win over Montreal last night. He should have a reasonable crack at the W — Toronto is surging right now, having won four of its last five, and currently boasts the NHL’s seventh-best offense.
For the Bolts, Andrei Vasilevskiy gets his second nod in as many nights, after stopping 22 shots in Wednesday’s win over the Habs.
— After making 40 saves in a win over Detroit on Tuesday, Robin Lehner is back in for Buffalo. No word yet on a Boston starter.
— Keith Kinkaid gives the struggling Cory Schneider a night off in Washington. The Caps will go with Braden Holtby, who has played well of late despite losing three of his last four starts.
— Speaking of nights off, Carey Price and Roberto Luongo each get one in Florida. The Panthers are going with James Reimer, and the Habs are going with Al Montoya.
— The Wings will give Jared Coreau his third career start when they take on the Sens in Ottawa. Mike Condon is in the other net.
— Sergei Bobrovsky and the red-hot Jackets are in Winnipeg tonight. Bobrovsky is looking for his 11th straight win and the Jackets are looking for their 13th in a row. For the Jets, Michael Hutchinson starts.
— Coming off a win against Washington on Tuesday, Jaroslav Halak is back in goal for the Isles, who visit Minnesota. No surprises from the Wild, who will continue to ride Devan Dubynk. Dubnyk is looking for his 10th win in a row.
— Corey Crawford has played well in both of his games since returning from an appendectomy, but failed to register a win. He’ll look to change that in Nashville this evening. Looks as though the Preds are going with Pekka Rinne.
— Colorado is still without the services of Semyon Varlamov (groin), so Calvin Pickard starts again. He allowed six goals on 31 shots in his last outing against Calgary on Tuesday. Pickard will face Kari Lehtonen, who is playing well of late, allowing just four goals on his last 68 shots faced.
— Chad Johnson is back in goal for the Flames, who had started Brian Elliott in three of the last four. He’ll be up against John Gibson.
— The Kings are on the second of a back-to-back, and played Peter Budaj in Vancouver last night. They’ve yet to announce a starter. Edmonton will start Cam Talbot for the 33rd time this year.
— Henrik Lunqvist is still out with illness, so Antti Raanta makes a second consecutive start for the Rangers. The Coyotes, as per usual, are going with veteran Mike Smith.